There’s a common misconception about the relation between motivation and money. People often believe paying their employees more will also raise their level of motivation in the long run. In this short article, I want to tell you about my experience with hiring people for corepo.org.
I personally have not found that I get a more motivated employee when I target a higher experienced, higher cost developer. It could have something to do with alternatives: in every salary category (junior, intermediate, senior, …), there are plenty of job alternatives and the people who are motivated by money will always have the equal number of alternatives at each pay.
If you start paying a developer two times more than when they started working with you just to get them motivated, they might as well look for another job that pays the same money.
The one exception to this fact I can think about is if you pay your employee significantly more than anyone else on the market would for the same seniority level and skill set. But then, their motivation becomes linked to an existential need: they only work because they don’t want to lose their job. When people have something to lose, particularly if they have a mortgage to pay, a family to provide for, etc, they will be more likely to be assiduous at work. But I think you can agree with me when I say this type of motivation is far from being healthy.
Another problem one can think of about incentivizing with money is the problem of creative jobs. How are you supposed to evaluate how much money their work is worth? Can you pay them as much, if not more than other employees? And how would these employees react to this pay, considering they might not fully comprehend the importance of creative work?
A few examples of better drives than money for work include:
To illustrate these examples with my current company, corepo.org, building motivation starts during the interview session. When we talk with candidates, we explain our purpose to give them a sense of mission (VISION).
We also focus on the abilities they will learn and develop while working with us. I always make sure I know where employees will move to next and I think about how the work they do at corepo is going to help them accelerate their future career (GROWTH).
During the pandemic, the SOCIAL aspect is obviously harder to reach, but we put in place specific channels and group discussions on our Discord server to use for something else than just work. We strive to recreate the atmosphere of a working community with “off moments” where we can just have a laugh together and share our daily stories.
I am currently re-reading Daniel H. Pink’s book about motivation, so I will soon post a short review on the lessons to keep in mind from this read. Meanwhile, if you guys have any question, or would like to tell me about your experience or your views on the relation between money and motivation in the business world, I would be more than enthusiastic to discuss it with you.
Thanks for reading!